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NSW Ambulance latest to adopt smart resource deployment

by Poppy Johnston •
Free resource

With population growth and insufficient funding putting strain on some of Australia’s key service delivery agencies, governments are increasingly turning to data analytics to help extract efficiencies out of existing systems and resources.

A primary candidate for data-driven resource deployment is healthcare, with the Australian Medical Association’s 2016 report card finding public hospitals across all states and territories in a "constant state of emergency", with insufficient funding and a flawed budgeting model largely to blame.

In New South Wales, data analytics has already been identified as a useful tool to streamline operations in healthcare, and will soon be utilised by NSW Ambulance to enable “fluid deployment” of its emergency response fleet.

The agency has recently approached the market for a Dispatch Decision Support System to integrate its various technologies to assist the intelligent deployment of crews “both in response to jobs and in anticipation of jobs”.

“A requirement of the Dispatch Decision Support System is to provide a fully integrated platform that enables the fluid deployment of resources informed by historic and real time data, in order to improve responses within the network across NSW”, states the Expression of Interest (EOI).

Improving analytics capabilities is only one aspect of NSW Ambulance’s plans to improve efficiency, with upgrades to the state’s aging infrastructure base also expected to streamline operations. Receiving funding through the 2016-17 state budget's $150 million capital program, the Sydney Ambulance Metropolitan Infrastructure Strategy (SAMIS) Program already underway has seen the build of a single superstation and surrounding stand-by points, with the Bankstown superstation expected to be operational last month.

With the superstation operating as a centralised base, the new infrastructure arrangement is thought to improve the agency’s ability to respond to lulls and spikes in demand. To help manage this new ‘hub and spoke’ model, upgrades to the primary deployment management system, the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) System, are currently underway.

Despite already having technologies that assist with dispatching the emergency response fleet, like the CAD system, NSW Ambulance has identified further opportunities to streamline operations like “staggered start times for paramedics and general changes to operating procedures”, which the new dispatch system will assist.

The new dispatch system will integrate with existing processes and software systems, including the new Tri Tech InformCAD System. Dimension Data was awarded a systems architecture contract for the project at a cost of $144,025 over three months starting 7 March 2017.

The Dispatch Decision Support System EOI closes for submissions 2 May 2017.

Also looking to streamline operations using analytics, Ambulance Victoria (AV) and the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) are collaborating to maximise the availably of ambulances by aligning non-time critical patients with appropriate alternative care. Part of this project requires an upgrade of the triage tool used by AV’s Referral Service when responding to calls, which the agency tendered for in December 2016.

Data analytics is also being used to streamline the operations of frontline police officers. In January 2016, NSW Police signed a $940,000 contract with Accenture for the supply of human resource software and services to allow for human resource modelling. Victoria Police have also recently signed a $35.68 million contract with SAS Institute Australia for a new intelligence system that will use predictive analytics to mitigate the risk of  police activities.

In one of the NSW Data Analytics Centre’s earliest projects, the DAC analysed the call out rate by NSW Fire and Rescue and the number of false alarms they attend to, in the interest of reducing false call out rates.

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